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Who was Cliff Boswell?

by Bob Anderson and Roger Hull

Cliff Boswell was born in Central Point, OR, in 1905. He moved to Southern California in 1932, where he earned his teaching degree at Santa Barbara. It was there he met his wife-to-be, Marge. Since 1941, the Boswell family has lived in Arroyo Grande, CA.

It is likely that every motorcyclist who has read a motorcycle magazine in the past couple of generations is familiar with Cliff Boswell and his writings. There is absolutely no doubt that Cliff was an important and powerful influence on the sport and all those who participated in it during the second half of the twentieth century.

Cliff won no races, set no cross country records, and could not have cared less about jumping a cycle over small traffic jams or other obstacles. He was a man who combined his love of motorcycling and the outdoors with his ability as a teacher, his major profession. As a consequence, his articles on cycling and camping out, which appeared in most of the major cycle publications, were inspiring to others. Through his written words in his articles and his books, this quiet man was able to educate others in the ways of traveling and camping by motorcycle. His love of such things came through on the printed page. He was happy to share his knowledge with others. This resulted in his founding, and for many years leading, the International Brotherhood of Motorcycle Campers, an organization which was, and remains, unique in this sport.

Cliff Boswell made no headlines, but he was a thoughtful and thinking man whose written words and special philosophy made motorcycling a more special sport for his hundreds of thousands of readers. He was a leader, a teacher, and a philosopher. When it comes to America’s motorcycling journalists, Cliff Boswell was the father of them all.

Cliff Boswell, the old master of motorcycling, passed away on May 20, 1993. There are probably those who have camped more and gone farther, but few who shared the experience like he did, causing as many others to go try it for themselves.

On August 5, 1998, Cliff was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Motorcycle Museum in Sturgis, SD.


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